On the day the path to a repeat title was laid out, the defending champs left little doubt.
Class A No. 2 Omaha South put three on the board in the second half and wrapped up a 15-1 regular season with a 4-1 win Wednesday over fourth-ranked Gretna.
The Packers were officially made one of the seven district tournament hosts with the release of brackets earlier in the day, earning the top seed in A-2. Later in the night, they showed why.
Leading scorer Kevin Becerril did most of the heavy lifting offensively Wednesday, scoring the first three goals for the Packers. It pushed the senior’s season total to 21.
A pair of those in the opening minutes of the second half proved to be the difference.
After his penalty kick gave South a lead in the 16th minute — one that Gretna answered six minutes later — two more in a quick spurt just after the break gave Becerril his third hat trick of the season.
A back-post effort in the 44th minute was followed by an easy putaway that came via a strong individual effort from Wawa Palga just three minutes later.
Junior Rufay Enow added a late score for the Packers, who tallied four goals in a match for the ninth time this season.
South coach Joe Maass said his team was fortunate to survive an early Gretna onslaught.
“We were just a little too relaxed and they were on us,” Maass said. “They could have scored a few different times in the first half.”
Becerril said he could sense a change in momentum at halftime.
“The first half was really bad,” Becerril said. “But the way we were talking (at halftime), I knew it was going to be different in the second half.”
South now turns its attention to the postseason, where a district opener awaits. When asked if his team would head to the win-or-go home portion of the schedule with confidence, Becerril said Wednesday night’s showing doesn’t hurt.
“Coming off this win, we should be,” he said.
The Packers will meet the winner of Saturday’s play-in match between Lincoln Northeast and Bellevue West in a semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Gretna will also host a Monday night district opener as the top seed in the A-3 tournament. The Dragons (13-3) will face either Fremont or Omaha North, and could have a potential district championship meeting with Omaha Bryan that would be the third match between the teams this season.
Omaha South (15-1).....1 3—4
At Gretna (13-3)............1 0—1